The lovely historic town of Lewes, DE—known as “the first city in the first state,” due to its origins as the original settlement in what would become the state of Delaware—is about to host a maritime New Year’s celebration unlike anything you’d experience elsewhere on the peninsula.
Lewes is home to the Lightship Overfalls, a National Historic Landmark. The LV-118—the ship on display, is one of only 17 remaining lightships out of the 179 originally built from 1820 to 1952, and one of only seven open to the public.
A lightship is a floating lighthouse, whose purpose was to warn ships of shallow water further out to sea. The Overfalls Lightship Station was positioned near the mouth of the Delaware Bay, three miles east of Cape Henlopen and 8.5 miles southwest of Cape May—a mid-channel marker. Lightships served the Overfalls station from 1898 to 1960. Following, a simple buoy replaced the purpose of the once magnificent ships.
The Lightship Overfalls recently underwent a massive restoration project clocking in at over 40,000 volunteer manpower hours, and a price tag of 1.2 million dollars. The work was started in 1999, and was finally completed in the summer of 2010. The project included the scraping of the rust-covered ship—which in part, resulted in the volunteer crew being dubbed the “Dirty Hands Gang,”- the repairing of the hull that had rusted away in two places after sitting in over seven feet of mud in the Lewes/Rehoboth Canal since 1973, and building a permanent slip for the ship. In the summer of 2011, the Lightship Overalls received the honored designation of National Historic Landmark.
The ship that is currently open to the public is the result of the tireless work and dedication of numerous volunteers and the pockets of generous supporters. The ship is normally open Memorial Day through September 30th for regular hours, limited hours in the month of October, and by special appointment for group tours and events the remaining months.
On Saturday December 30th, the Lightship Overfalls will become the only National Historic Landmark to host a New Year’s Eve ball drop—or in this case, an “Anchor Drop.” At 11:55 pm, join in the festivities as the lighted anchor drops from the mast of the ship to the deck, while the countdown to 2012 begins. For the public’s convenience and safety, all walkways will be lit at Overfalls Park until 12:30 am.
Ring in New Year’s a little differently this year—by being able to say you were celebrating the New Year with an anchor for a countdown at National Historic Landmark—something you can only find on the Eastern Shore.
The ship is located at 219 Pilottown Road, two blocks north of Business Hwy 9 (Savannah Road), on the Lewes & Rehoboth Canal and adjacent to beautiful Canalfront Park, in historic Lewes, Delaware.